An Unforgettable Valentine's Day Party
“Wake up, Viktor, we’re going to be late!” a voice very far away shouted. Viktor was happily jumping through the bright, colorful, clouds in Faerieland, chewing on his infinite supply cheesy meat wraps. Before he could even think of swallowing another tasty bite, he felt himself get jerked away from the clouds, the happiness, and the colors, only to find himself being shaken back and forth by what seemed like a very impatient Yellow Hissi. “The party’s in less than an hour, c’mon!”
“Five minutes, Martin, I promise,” Viktor groaned, turning away from his brother and pulling the fluffy blue covers over his head. A disappointed growl came from Martin and even with his head buried under the covers, Viktor could hear him sliding out the door. He knew the Valentine's Day party was today, but unlike most Pirate Krawks, he had stayed up late the night before ironing his shirt, head scarf, and neck scarf, because he knew that Martin would never let him live that down.
Slipping out of bed slowly, he yawned and stretched, making his way to the bathroom the same way he did every day. He still didn’t find the energy to open his eyes, but found his way there alright. With little effort, he found his favorite purple toothbrush and his other brother Ryan’s pea flavored toothpaste (now why a Pea Chia would want a pea flavor in the toothpaste was a mystery to all of them) in the surrounding darkness and started grooming himself. The monotony of the usual routine sank in quickly enough and Viktor started thinking about how great that party was going to be. His best bud, and uncle, Richard, made the best Valentine's cookies and muffins; and was always quick to brag about it as well, like any proud Royalboy Kyrii. Martin was the strongest of the family, and never lost an opportunity to arm wrestle any opposition his way. Viktor never blamed him for showing off, though; after all, he WAS the only one who spent all his neopoints to train rather than paint himself a cool color like the others.
“Are you done with the bathroom yet, bro? I need to shine my scales before we leave.” Martin knocked, ever the impatient one. Martin’s bright, yellow scales seemed to be fine and shiny last night, but Viktor wasn’t about to question it.
“Yeah, almost done, Marty,” he yawned back, slipping on his shirt and fixing the neck scarf nicely around his neck. Now all he needed was to put on his head scarf, though for that he did need the mirror to get it on just right. Lazily opening his eyes, he stared ahead of him and was puzzled by what he saw. Nothing had a clear outline, and all the colors of adjacent objects seemed to almost blend into each other. His face looked like a blend of teal, with dark spots for where his eyes should be, and barely any distinction of his snout. Viktor rubbed his eyes with both his hands and looked straight ahead again, but there was no change.
“Hello? We have to leave in fifteen minutes, dude!” Martin knocked louder. Viktor’s heart jumped to his throat as he realized how grave this was. If this really was blurred vision, then there was no way he could go to the party; Martin would never let him go. Without thinking, he opened the door just as Martin was about to knock again, and stared straight at him (or at what he assumed was Martin). In front of him stood a mess of yellow with darker shades for where his eyes were, and slightly darker shades for his belly.
“Uh... done!” Viktor squealed as he tried to slip past his brother. He tripped over a misplaced shirt but kept his footing. “Heh, stupid shirt, snuck up on me!” He forced a chuckle, looking up at his brother. Martin only raised an eyebrow at him before stepping into the bathroom, and Viktor knew he had gotten away with it – so far anyway.
Walking out of the house was a chore. Not only could Viktor barely recognize anything in front of him, which resulted in many bumps to the toe, but he had to keep it from his brother. As they walked through Neopia Central to buy a cake for the party, it was harder to keep up the charade.
“Morning, Viktor!” a sweet, rather high voice seemed to yell past him. What looked like a Plushie Shoyru on a red bicycle had just whizzed past him and Martin on the street.
“Hi, Nora!” He waved back with a big smile on his face. His sight was horrible, but he was glad he could still play along.
“Nora? That was Emily, dude,” Martin seemed to whisper to him. Viktor’s heart froze; Emily wasn’t Plushie, or a Shoyru; she was a Blue Draik. “I thought Mom had been reading books to you, but I guess it just came in through one ear and out the other!” He pushed Viktor’s head playfully, laughing to himself. This was a sigh of relief; maybe he still hadn’t suspected anything. The rest of the walk was still a chore, as he had to evade tripping on the roots of the Money Tree (and the various items lying around it), other incoming pedestrians (from the ground and sky), and even his own feet. Luckily the Bakery wasn’t too far away from their Neohome, with Viktor being the first inside.
“Yo! What can I get ya?” The friendly Blue Kacheek smiled at the brothers. Viktor could barely make out the baker’s outline, and only noticed his smile by the familiar half-moon shade under his nose, and what looked like smudges of yellow on parts of his face and hands, which he assumed was flour.
“Which one do you want to bring?” Martin nudged Viktor and pointed to what looked like a table behind the counter filled with delicious baked goods. Viktor almost seemed to glare at the cakes as he tried to make out what each one of them was. He was always a big fan of lime, and pointed to the first green cake he saw in hopes it was a Lime Shoyru Cake.
“The Apple Krawk Cake? But you’re allergic to apples,” Martin questioned, scratching his head. Viktor quickly pointed elsewhere at the remark.
“Yeah I know, I meant that one.” He had found another green cake at the table and hoped dearly this one was lime.
“...You hate Gooseberry Poogle Cakes. Are you alright?” Martin’s glare seemed to burn into the back of his head and he knew he was in trouble.
“I had a change of heart lately; they’re actually pretty good!” Viktor smiled at the baker, who was just standing there watching the whole spectacle. The Kacheek didn’t seem to care much about the mini family drama unfolding in front of him, and simply boxed the cake for them to take.
Even though Viktor couldn’t see well, he knew the route well and knew that they were quickly approaching Richard’s Neohome. His home was the only one on the block that got accidentally painted blue instead of bright colors, like yellow or red, when they were trying to redecorate the neighborhood. That wasn’t the only difference, however. All the windows came in very different shapes, with some being round or square, and others taking even stranger shapes for a window, like triangular or cylindrical. For reasons no one was quite sure of, Uncle Richard feared chimneys, and knocked his own down soon after moving in. He tried to cover it up with material similar from the roof, but it was always one shade darker than the actual roof, and stood out as much as the house did amongst the others. Even with his vision, Viktor could easily point all this out.
“Hey, what do you think about Uncle Richard changing the traditional Elegant Holiday Wreath to the Angry Meekins Holiday Wreath he has up now?” asked Martin as they started to walk past the front gate and into the property. Viktor squinted at the door and couldn’t really tell the difference.
“Uhhhm, I think it looks pretty nice on his door,” Viktor seemed to almost whisper. All of a sudden his brother suddenly sprang up and turned to him.
“I knew it! You can’t see! The Wreath is still the same one!” Martin pointed at Viktor fiercely, grabbing his arm. Even with his blurred vision, he could see the anger in his brother’s eyes.
“I was going to tell you!” Viktor squealed, trying to free himself from his brother’s grasp, his heart sunk.
“Yeah, after hurting yourself getting here, not to mention getting everyone else sick too. Come on, we’re going to the pharmacy and then straight home.” He started to pull him towards the street when suddenly the front door opened.
“Hey, you two, coming in?” It sounded like their uncle, Richard, smiling at the door. Martin seemed to glare down at Viktor. He just replied by mouthing him a ‘please’. Martin growled under his breath and whispered something about only staying for five minutes. Viktor let out a sigh of relief and ran in with his brother.
Viktor and Martin both looked around the room in awe at what was in front of them. They came in expecting to find a room with walls completely decorated in pink and red hearts, tables full of all the most delicious types of chocolates in Neopia, along with other great candy, and of course flowers and bouquets in every corner. What they found instead was posters indicating how to properly take care of Sneezles, Achy Head, and NeoPox lacing all the walls in the room. The table in the middle instead contained Neopkins, Kikoughela Syrup, Tongue Shrinkers and many other medicinal items. Everyone around them looked like they had been sneezing or coughing the whole day.
“Uncle Richard, what happened?” Martin’s jaw looked like it was about to hit the floor. Uncle Richard shrugged. Viktor could see that despite the environment, he still managed to dress in his finest Royal clothes, and hadn’t neglected his crown either. In fact, he didn’t seem the least bit disappointed about the very sickly situation.
“Well, everyone started to call in sick, and instead of cancelling the party and ruining this day for everyone, I thought that we could all still enjoy each other’s company.” He grinned, pointing to all the other Neopets that looked visibly sick, but still looked like they were having a grand time. “Oh! You brought cake, great!” He took the cake off Martin’s hands and went to put it in the kitchen.
“So... We can stay?” Viktor looked up at Martin with pleading eyes. Martin sighed at his younger brother and nodded. A huge smile came across Viktor’s face and he walked up to the center table to see if they had Extra Thick Goggles. As he approached the table he saw a tall, Red Elephante standing by the table, blowing her trunk into a messy pile of Neopkins she was holding.
“Hi, I’m Viktor, nice to meet you.” He smiled, reaching out his hand. The Elephante smiled at him and quickly tried to move all her Neopkins into her left hand to make the right one free, and extended that hand to him too.
“Hello, I’m- Ahh.. CHOO!” She sneezed into the mess on her left hand and both of them looked at each other and laughed. Viktor looked around the room at all his friends who were smiling, laughing, playing around, and still having fun. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Martin jump as someone with Shock-A-Lots shook his hand, but still managed to laugh it off afterward.
Viktor smiled to himself as he realized a great truth. Valentine's Day wasn’t so much about all the candy and decorations, but about enjoying that day with people they cared about, with or without a stuffy nose!